China stocks flat, Hong Kong up on audit deal hopes

SHANGHAI, Aug 26 (Reuters) – China stocks struggled for direction on Friday as consumer stocks offset losses in energy companies, while COVID-19 outbreaks and property woes kept investor sentiment subdued.

Hong Kong shares rose, buoyed by news of possible progress in China-U.S. talks to hammer out an audit deal.

** China’s CSI 300 index was almost flat at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.1%.

** The Hang Seng Index and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index both added 0.7%.

** Consumer staples stocks gained 1.1%, while tourism and non-ferrous metal shares added more than 1.5% each.

** However, energy companies lost 1.9%, with coal miners down 2.7%.

** The energy subindex still has gained more than 7% so far in the week, amid surging power demand due to China’s longest and most widespread heatwave in decades.

** China’s energy shortage could lead to higher demand for copper and aluminium as the power constraints highlighted the need for increasing grid investments, ANZ analysts said.

** China’s equity market is expected to break through current range-bound performance if the anti-virus measures are adjusted and confidence in the property market is revived, said the CIO office of UBS Global Wealth Management.

** Hong Kong shares of PetroChina rose 3% after the company posted a record first-half profit, thanks to an increase in its oil and gas output and higher energy prices.

** Tech giants listed in Hong Kong added 0.6%, following a 6% surge in the previous session.

** The United States and China are nearing an agreement allowing American accounting regulators to travel to Hong Kong to inspect audit records of U.S.-listed Chinese companies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

** The news also boosted other Asian shares, while traders anxiously awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for clues on rate hikes.

Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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